The Personal Spin Giada De Laurentiis Puts On Classic Cacio E Pepe

Giada De Laurentiis likes to keep it authentic when she is making Italian dishes, but she still likes to put her own personal spin on classic recipes like cacio e pepe. Cacio e pepe, which is simply pasta with a cheese and pepper sauce, is the perfect dish to make for family and friends when you are all about ease. It requires minimal ingredients and prep time, and when De Laurentiis makes it, per a YouTube video with her daughter, she adds a little pancetta and arugula to the mix for a truly flavorful pasta that will satiate your hungriest eater.  

The addition of these two ingredients incorporates a crunchy and savory element as well as a spicy kick. De Laurentiis cooks up the diced pancetta until it is nice and crisp, so this extra step adds about 10 minutes of active cooking time to your dish, but it is well worth it. Then, she adds the pepper, which causes this seasoning to become toasty and "fragrant," before giving it a ladle full of starchy pasta water. While you could easily use bacon in place of the pancetta, De Laurentiis advocates for sticking with her Italian roots and using the pancetta.

A blank canvas

After the pasta, cheese, and butter have been added to the pancetta mix, De Laurentiis adds the arugula to the pan and lets it wilt without fully cooking it. If you want a mild, delicate, and less peppery bite, use baby arugula. The end result is a full-flavored cacio e pepe with all the flavors De Lauarentiis knows and loves. But that is really at the heart of the California chef's take on this dish; it's a blank canvas awaiting you to customize it for your taste buds. 

If you like the addition of pancetta and arugula, consider trying some prosciutto paired with some seasonal veggies like peas, corn, or even roasted carrots and Brussels spouts for a truly yummy bite. You will enjoy the contrast of the texture your vegetables add as well as the sweet and salty nature of the prosciutto. If you need something a little more substantive, consider adding some fresh spinach and leftover shredded chicken from a previous night's meal to your cacio e pepe.